Forgiveness: The Gospel Message in One Word

At times, I have hard time reconciling the two thoughts of church being in a human-manufactured building. Along with this struggle I find myself falling into the promotion of ‘being-in-a-building way of thinking’; contrasting it with the Church gathering anywhere that they, God’s people, choose to meet or dwell.  This view does away with most of the bureaucracy that comes with the former. Although there is truth in that very statement, but the whole truth be told disagreements arise in any and all places where fallible humans meet.

Then, I also have a HARD time with cowardice, hypocritical, passive aggressive individuals! I have heard it said that what we despise most in others, what we despise most about ourselves. Hmmmmm… am I any of these? (The question is worth asking) But, too, Jesus despised the Pharisees and He had none of the above in Him! So, what if at one time in my life I displayed any one these character flaws; should it not be all the easier for me to pour, lavishly, grace and mercy on others who are where I ‘used to be’? I think about the man who was forgiven much but was in turn unable to forgive just a little bit. And, how his master gave him an even harsher punishment because of his unwillingness to overlook his own servant’s debt. As you know, parables are earthly stories with heavenly meaning. So, I know that if I do not show forgiveness to others, as God has forgiven me, I will not be forgiven. Oh yeah, it’s in there.(Matthew 6:14)

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Oh that I would not be a shrewd manager! May I forever for be an emblem of Grace because that is What/Who Jesus is for me. May I always re-present the Jesus to all I encounter, even those who it is hard to love or befriend. May I present myself as a living sacrifice and die to my own way of handling people. May Christ be seen in me- that I may actually flesh-out His Gospel message. As I live, denying myself, and embracing my cross. May I choose to see beyond what my naked and blurry eyes can see. THIS HERE is REAL! And it gets NO MORE REAL than this!  THIS HERE IS THE WAY OF THE GOSPEL. May we take no offense, but be emptied out and filled with Christ that we may no longer live for us but truly LIVE for Jesus! How? By allowing Him to live in us! I was reminded, this week, of the story Corre ten Boom shared on her(by God’s grace) forgiving a guard who held her captive. This was written in her book,  I’m Sill Learning to Forgive here is a short expert. But I encourage you to read the full story of her forgiving the man who once was her enemy and now her brother in Christ, here.

“For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’

“I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

“And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’

“And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“ ‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’bigstock-Old-Couple-Holding-Hands-2041049

“For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then” (italics and bold, added)

How beautiful the end of this story, but as you read, how treacherous the journey. It’s AHmazing, as my friend Tami Romo would write, that when emptied of ourselves and set aside for the Lord’s use, the Lord can use us, literally, to speak and live out the message of the Cross to men and women. Can you even think of the affects and effects of the maligning of the Gospel that would have taken place if Corre did not forgive him. I dare not think of it! Let alone, live it out! No! May I NEVER!!!!

The Lord is so good to us! He is so loving and gracious us, to me! I love Him so much! This Jesus who changes lives of all people! Has changed mine! I am still being transformed as I learn of Him more and more! How great a God we serve! May my life, my conduct, my speech, my thoughts and my heart SHOW JESUS’ GOOD WORK! Lord have mercy!

Fight! Fight! Fight! It’s a Fight!

My husband and I were talking about “fighting”. No, not each other; but the one where we have had to stand together and fight. We both have posed this question to the Lord, “Do we have to fight for everything?” We both understand that there is blessings and testimonies to Christ in our trials. But come on! So we developed this list of almost everything we have had to fight for:

  • 1. Getting married
  • 2. Becoming parents
  • 3. Amber
  • 4. Family (Pregnancies)
  • 5. Managing our household financially
  • 6. Fair treatment in workforce
  • 7. Employment
  • 8. Army
  • 9. Friendships
  • 10. Anything we have believed God for and set our hearts after (within God’s will)

Now, we know ” we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere” (Eph 6:12 Amplified). So we try our best to keep our eyes on our Savior because alot of times, including now, we cannot see our own way out of the messes.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am in no way EXcusing our own sins and mistakes we have made along the way. I do understand there are consequences that follow. But, I also know that we have a loving God who has us in His Will, His Plan and His Purpose. He has this extensive grace that when we think cannot be stretched any further, it continues to go on and on and on! I am reminded of what Paul said in Romans 5: 21 “So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Joseph and I have become even closer as husband and wife, partners with Christ in this world.

When will we have a break? This is always a lingering question. Whether in the forefront or in the back of our minds. I mean boxers take a 15 second break, right? When will we be able to breathe without choking? I sometimes look at some of our friends (knowing that they too are not perfect or having things going their way all the time) and think: “How did they get it so good?” Or sometimes just comparing struggles (sad, I know) But, again, I am reminded “… The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned…” (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

What keeps us in the ring fighting, all the while being battered and bruised? Well, for one, we have come to learn that, ultimately, it is NOT ABOUT US. God has a plan and a purpose outside of us! Even, though it can be terribly difficult we do have this assurance from Him that He will never leave nor forsake us, and that the LORD has plans for us and they are good plans, plans not for disaster, but to give us a hope and future. (Jer 29:11) Furthermore, as we are learning to lose ourselves for the Cause of this Christ. We are learning to consider our lives worth nothing so that we may finish this race and the tasks that the Lord Jesus has given to us- the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24)

We will continue to fight this Good Fight! The fight our lives, right Kirk? Just kidding baby!fight of our lvie(inside joke) But for real, we will finish this fight STRONG and it will not be in vain! We will continue to keep the faith, as Paul so encouraged Timothy. We look forward to seeing the WHOLE PICTURE when that GREAT Day comes! It will all be worth it!!!

Be encouraged with this! ” until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.” Daniel 7:22

(written in 2011ish)

Not Growing Weary of and Retelling the Gospel Story

I wanted to share this quote from one of Martin Luther’s sermon Gloria Furman used in her book, Glimpses of Grace, regarding preaching the Gospel to yourself. Here it is:

“Are you among those who say, ‘I have heard [the gospel] all before; why must I hear it again?’ If so, your heart has become dull, satiated, and shameless, and this food does not taste good to you. This is the same thing that happened to the Jews in the wilderness when they grow tired of eating manna. But if you are a Christian, you will never grow weary, but will long to hear this message often and to speak about it forever.”what-to-say-when-you-preach-gospel-

Oh [ladies], reading this so encourages me and does my soul and spirit well. What keeps me from growing weary as a human, a wife and a mother….this Liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ! And praise His Name He put it in the hearts of men to put in writing for us!

Daily, we are to recall and remember. Remember where we were and recall  the greatness of our Great God and His Magnificent Redemption Plan. What a blessing it is to be able to think on the wonders the Lord has done in our own lives and what He is doing in ALL creation. He bought us back! HE SAVED US! YES!  We were nasty and undeserving.  Jeremiah says in Lamentations 3:19-24,

Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.

 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

As followers of Jesus Christ the Gospel never gets old. The Cross never becomes weak and out of tune or out of style. It is our Highest Good! He have nothing better than when the Christ hung and became a curse for us! So, I would encourage you. Especially, if you haven’t heard, read of spoke to yourself, the Gospel message in a while; beginning reading a chapter of a Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Ask the Lord to cause you to remember! Ask Him to reveal your need to be able to recall! In case, you need to hear a quick summation, right now. Here is a sermon from our brother Peter:

 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being thereforeexalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”  So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.  -Acts 2:22-41 (If you have time, read from verse 14) (emphasis added)

May we never grow weary by the way of the Gospel and may we forever retell the Story to our children, our neighbors, the lady at the grocery store or wherever He sends you.